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Chatmon v. State

Supreme Court of Arkansas

January 29, 2015

ROLANDIS LARENZO CHATMON, APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS, APPELLEE

APPEAL FROM THE FAULKNER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. 23CR-12-571. HONORABLE MICHAEL A. MAGGIO, JUDGE.

Digby Law Firm, by: Bobby R. Digby II, for appellant.

Dustin McDaniel, Att'y Gen., by: Karen Virginia Wallace, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

OPINION

Page 732

PAUL E. DANIELSON, Associate Justice.

Appellant Rolandis Larenzo Chatmon appeals the order of the Faulkner County Circuit Court finding him guilty of three counts of aggravated robbery and one

Page 733

count of theft of property. He was sentenced, as a habitual offender with a firearm enhancement, to a total term of three life sentences, plus 360 months' imprisonment, to be served consecutively. On appeal, he argues that (1) there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions because the State failed to prove that he was the person who committed the crimes; (2) the circuit court erred in allowing the State to introduce into evidence certain recordings of phone conversations; and (3) the circuit court erred in denying his motion for new trial based on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. Our jurisdiction of this appeal is pursuant to Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 1-2(a)(2) (2014). We affirm.

The record reflects that on the evening of May 15, 2012, Derek Leidholm, his wife, Morgan, and their neighbor, Jansen McGuire, were in the garage of the Leidholms' house, when a man entered the garage, carrying a black semiautomatic pistol, and demanding money. After Jansen handed over a leather wallet, the man exited the garage from the left side, just as he had entered. Both Morgan and Jansen called 911 in separate calls. While they were doing so, Derek peeked around the corner of the garage and saw the man running " down the side . . . through the yards." Derek then saw a dark-color, midsize SUV proceed slowly through a stop sign without stopping, while the man ran beside it. After losing sight of the SUV, Derek remained outside of his garage, and then saw the SUV again, this time moving at a high rate of speed.

After receiving a subject description and vehicle description, officers checked the area. Specifically, police were looking for a tall, thin black male wearing a white shirt, black jeans, and possibly a blue baseball cap and carrying a black semiautomatic pistol. In addition, police sought what was possibly a black SUV. In checking nearby apartment complexes, police discovered a dark-colored SUV parked in a slanted position with a driver and a passenger sitting inside. After approaching the vehicle, police discovered a tall, thin black male, wearing a white shirt and black jeans, who identified himself as Chatmon; Chatmon informed the police that he and his passenger, Rodney Chambers, were about to leave.

At that time, Crystal Brown, Chatmon's then girlfriend and the owner of the SUV, came outside and subsequently consented to a search of the car. Police searched the vehicle, and a hat and a black semiautomatic pistol were found. Police also searched a nearby trash dumpster and discovered Jansen's wallet sitting on top of the trash inside the dumpster.

On May 18, 2012, a felony information was filed, charging Chatmon with three counts of aggravated robbery, one count of theft of property, and one count of possession of a firearm by certain persons.[1] Chatmon was tried before a jury on August 8-9, 2013. He was convicted and sentenced, as previously set forth, and now appeals.

For his first point on appeal, Chatmon argues that the circuit court erred in denying his motion for directed verdict. He contends not that there was insufficient evidence of aggravated robbery and theft of property, but that there was insufficient evidence that he was the person who committed the crimes. Chatmon avers that there is only circumstantial evidence to support his convictions and that it was insufficient to identify him as the assailant. The State responds that substantial evidence exists to show that Chatmon committed

Page 734

the crimes, including his own admission to a fellow inmate at the county jail.

The test for determining the sufficiency of the evidence is whether the verdict is supported by substantial evidence. See Wells v. State, 2013 Ark. 389, 430 S.W.3d 65. Substantial evidence is evidence that is forceful enough to compel a conclusion one way or the other beyond suspicion or conjecture. See id. On review, only evidence that supports the verdict ...


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